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Before Navratri, FDA cracks down on adulterated ghee

Keeping in mind the wide use of ghee to make festive sweets, officials of the Food and Drug Administration are working hard to keep adulterated stuff at bay.

ghee samples
Quality control: Unwilling to take chances, FDA officials are working hard to collect ghee samples from various shops in Mumbai

Some of the ghee packets that were picked randomly by the Food Safety Officers (FSOs) from various malls and grocery stores in the city failed to meet FDA quality standards. Many of the ghee packets that were of a poor quality were also much cheaper than usual.

Commenting on the packets of ghee they picked up from the city, FDA Joint Commissioner (Food) Suresh Deshmukh said, “We are not saying that every brand of ghee sold in the market at a cheaper price is bad, but it definitely raises question over the authenticity of the product. Recently, we seized ghee manufactured by a lesser-known company and initial tests revealed that it failed food and safety standards. Further tests are on to ascertain adulterants.”

Deshmukh said the FSOs have now been asked to pick samples of ghee that was sold for anywhere between Rs 200 to Rs 250 a kilo.

“We will be testing these samples, as ghee is the most important ingredient used by several families during festive season. With demand for sweets soaring, we do not want to take chances. To meet the increasing demand, adulteration has become rampant,” said Deshmukh.

Since September 1, FDA officials have scrutinised numerous cold storages and sweet shops in the city and took 67 khoya and 47 sweets samples. The officials also seized sweets and khoya worth Rs 3.28 lakh, which they suspected was of substandard quality.

“We have collected a few samples and are waiting for the final report. We will soon meet manufacturers and brief them on consequences (see box) if adulteration is detected in their products,” said Deshmukh.

Simple Chemical test to detect adulteration
>> In one teaspoon of melted ghee, add 5 ml of concentrated hydrochloric acid (HCL)
>> Shake the mixture well for 5 minutes
>> Then add a pinch of sugar or furfural
>> Appearance of pink colour indicates presence of vanaspati ghee

Comply or pay
>> Penalty for substandard food: Rs 5 lakh
>> Penalty for misbranded food: Rs 5 lakh and above
>> Penalty for failure to comply with FSO’s directions: Rs 2 lakh
>> For possessing adulterants: Rs 2 lakh to Rs 10 lakh 

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